Ran, “Just a little bit of rotten money, how can this be considered rich? You’re so uncultured.”

Cheng Peng laughed humorlessly, “Then why’d you nag me all day about the rotten money you lost last year?”

“It’s not the money,” Ji Ran said slowly, “I just don’t like losing.”

Cheng Peng lit a cigarette, “Isn’t it the same? If you give me money, I’ll let you win as many times as you want.”

Yu Wen Wen spat, “Businessman!”

Cheng Peng laughed but didn’t refute his statement because he was really a businessman driven by profits.
He didn’t think it was a bad thing.

“Since you don’t care, why don’t you give me all your chips, then? It’ll increase our brotherly relationship,” Cheng Peng said.

Yu Wen Wen cursed, “Stop trying to take advantage of Little Ran Ran.”

All his chips didn’t even add up to six figures either way.
Ji Ran simply pulled open his drawer and wanted to take it out when he suddenly remembered something and slammed it shut.

“Not giving.”

Cheng Peng, “Then, you keep it and don’t spend it.
I’ll win it back next time.”

Ji Ran chuckled, “Scram.”

“It’s been two rounds, why isn’t my baby back yet?” Cheng Peng asked.

Yu Wen Wen answered, “What’s the rush? It’s not like he’ll run and moreover, Cheng Peng, you’ve changed.
In the past, those men couldn’t even stay by your side for more than a month.
It’s been almost three months… What, you’ve turned over a new leaf?”

“I quite like him, so I’m bringing him along.”

“He looks very young, which school did you lure him from?” Ji Ran asked.

“That’s just his face.
He’s actually almost 22 years old and if you compare it to my previous lovers, he’s already older.” Cheng Peng told them, “He’s lacking in money, I picked him up from a pile of young masters.”

Cheng Peng’s greatest flaw was his fickleness.
But at least even if he was scum, he had a conscience and wouldn’t hurt others.

Just as his words fell, the door opened and Chen An walked in slowly with hunched shoulders, closing the door behind him.

“What took you so long? Come here,” Cheng Peng said.

Chen An lowered his head, “I-It wasn’t long.”

Ji Ran looked at the empty seat beside him and finally asked after another round, “Did you see Qin Man?”

Chen An froze.
He didn’t reply for some time.

“He-He’s in the toilet.” Chen An stuttered, “When I c-came out, he was-was on the phone.”

“Oh,” Ji Ran gave a dull response.

Chen An hesitated for a while before speaking, “He seems to have-to have some problems.”

Yu Wen Wen scooted over, “What problems?”

Chen An shook his head, “I only heard – selling his house and – moving.”

Ji Ran knocked down his tiles and interrupted them, “I won.”

These people weren’t addicted to gambling and only played a couple rounds to pass the time.
After some time, Yu Wen Wen stopped and said he was going to True Colours to find his good sisters.

After they bid their farewells, there were only Ji Ran and Qin Man left in the booth.

Ji Ran opened the window and lit a cigarette.
He didn’t know if Chen An was used to second-hand smoke, so he had endured it earlier.

Qin Man asked, “You’re not leaving?”

Ji Ran leaned against the window and raised the hand he used to pinch the cigarette to gesture towards the drawer containing the betting chips, “Take it, you can change it for cash at the front counter.”

Qin Man opened the drawer and saw the pile of betting chips.

“No need.”

“You won it,” Ji Ran said.

Qin Man laughed, “But you came up with the initial funds.”

Ji Ran took out two chips from his pocket and fiddled with it, “Mine is here.
Enough, stop wasting time.
Just toss it if you don’t want it.”

Qin Man didn’t continue to argue, “Thanks.”

After he stepped out of the door, Ji Ran stubbed the cigarette and inexplicably turned back to ask, “Do you want a ride?”

He was suddenly quite curious about Qin Man’s current living conditions.
After all, there was nothing that made him happier than seeing Qin Man living a poor and desolate life.
Ji Ran silently convinced himself.

Qin Man smiled, “No need, I can go home by myself.”

“…” Who was it that insisted on wanting to take his car back on the mountains? Ji Ran turned around and walked towards the car park without another word.

Ji Ran didn’t go straight home.

He went to a racing track.

At night, there weren’t many people around and his car immediately became the centre of attention.

“Brother Ran, why are you here so late?” The manager walked out and looked over his car, “Wow, new car?”

“No, I’ve had it for a while but had it sent for maintenance and just got it back.” Ji Ran looked at his surroundings, “I want to go for a couple of rounds, is there anyone up for it?”

“Ah…” The manager looked around, “There was, but probably not anymore.”

The manager touched his ears, “No one wants to race with you but you can try your luck during the day.”

“Then I won’t race.
I’ll just go two rounds.”

Ji Ran skilfully changed into his racing gear and after returning to his car, the loud and arrogant roar of his engine rang out provocatively.
A few seconds later, the car had shot off from the starting line.

The manager stopped his work and hurriedly ran in front of the security cameras which were capturing the footage.
He watched it in interest and after half a minute, everyone else joined him, huddled around the CCTVs.

“Who’s this? How arrogant.
His car’s exterior is also so flashy.” A new racer couldn’t help but mumble.

The manager laughed, “Then you must have never seen his engine, it’s even more exaggerated.
It isn’t any worse than professional race cars.”

That person wanted to continue speaking when he saw the car on the screen execute a clean and beautiful drift.
He was someone who’d got into this after watching too many car racing events.
At this moment, he felt that this drift was even cooler than those he’d seen on TV before and shouted, “Amazing!”

“You’re lucky, being able to see Ji Ran after only two days here.” The manager patted his shoulders, “I don’t know about anything else, but Ji Ran’s skills are well-known in the city.
He hasn’t been coming in much in the last two years but you probably don’t know how many people come here every day just to catch a glimpse of him racing.”

“… So hardcore? He looks quite young.” The person asked, “Why doesn’t he become a professional racer? I heard they earn quite a lot.”

“Look at his car, do you think he lacks money? I heard many teams tried to get him but were all rejected.
I don’t know the details.”

Ji Ran went a couple of rounds.
When his car came to a stop, the turbulent rush had yet to calm down.

Feels good.

The charm of racing was that no matter how many times you’d done it, as long as you sat in the same position, focused and stepped on the accelerator, it’d still be capable of raising your passion and competitive spirit.

Hearing the sound of the engine made him feel as if he was the only person left in this world and he could forget everything.
To be completely free of worries.

It’s just that the track was too short and adding onto the fact that he’d already memorised all the race tracks in the city in the last few years, the novelty and excitement had dulled a little.

“You’re still as fast as ever.” The manager was waiting for him at the finish line, waiting for Ji Ran to wind down his windows.
“Bro, there’s a competition next month.
Are you interested? The Young Master Gu is sponsoring the prize…”

Ji Ran said, “No thanks.”

“Fine.” The manager was already used to it, “Do you want to go for two more rounds?”

Ji Ran looked at the people standing beside him and refused, “No, I’ll affect your business.”

On the way back, Ji Ran suddenly received a call telling him he’d forgotten his lighter at the mahjong parlour.

That lighter was a limited edition and he liked it.
So, he simply turned around and headed back.

The car came to a stop by the side of the road.
When he got off, he immediately saw a familiar figure.

Qin Man was still wearing the same clothes as before.
He was on the phone, standing in front of the entrance as if he hadn’t left since then.

Waiting for him to hang up, Ji Ran frowned and hesitated for a moment before walking over.
“Why’re you still here?”

Qin Man turned around, revealing a rare expression of astonishment, “I… What are you doing here?”

“I’m asking you now.”

“I…” Qin Man paused, “I’m waiting for a cab.”

Ji Ran sneered, “Even if you were waiting for a plane, you should already be in the sky by now.”

Qin Man laughed and lowered his head to look at his phone, “Fine.
I’m looking for a place to stay.”

This time, he didn’t wait for Ji Ran to ask before saying, “The debt my dad owes is not a small sum and the other side couldn’t wait, so he came to find me… my rental apartment isn’t safe so I can’t return for the time being.”

Ji Ran, “… Then, go to a hotel.”

Qin Man lowered his voice, “They have my identity card.”

With his identity card, it’ll be a piece of cake to find his location.

Ji Ran frowned, “Aren’t you an expert at calling the police?”

“It’s our fault for owing them money.
Forget it, I’ll let them run rampant for a while, it’d be easier for them to report back.” Qin Man asked him again, “Why are you back?”

“… I forgot my lighter.”

Qin Man nodded, “Go on.”

Ji Ran was silent for a moment, “What’s your plan? You can’t just stand by the road forever.”

“I’ll stay here for a bit before finding a hostel.
You don’t have to worry about me.”

Ji Ran choked, “Who’s worried about you? Just keep on waiting, I’m going in.”


Ji Ran held his lighter and came back out.
It had begun drizzling and the wind had gotten chilly.

The person standing at the entrance earlier had already shifted to take cover from the rain under a small shop.
Meeting his gaze, Qin Man smiled and waved at him.

Ji Ran suddenly remembered a certain night when he had met Qin Man in the abandoned teaching block.

At that time, he’d stood at the end of the corridor and was smoking when Qin Man suddenly appeared from the corner and told him coldly, “Student Ji, I’m the night patrol guard on duty today.
If you don’t put out your cigarette, I will have to report your name to the school.”

The two figures overlapped perfectly with the only difference being their expressions.

One was cold and the other was warm.

A drenched dog1.

Ji Ran cursed in his heart.

He used his thumb and opened the cover to his lighter, lighting up a cigarette before stubbing it out just as fast.

Half a minute later, he walked down the steps and appeared in front of the other person.

“Qin Man, are you doing this on purpose? Everyone knows you’re mine.
If my friends see you staying at a run-down hostel for less than a hundred per night, where can laozi put his face in the future?”

He copied the expression he’d seen on Qin Man at the time he’d been caught smoking.
He looked away and his voice was cold, his tone offering no room for negotiations, “… The maid’s room in my house is empty.
Scram there and stay for a while.”

1 somewhat of a pun here.
the chinese word for drenched (a dog who’s fallen into a water) used here can also refer to his current plight (broke and pitiful – think: a wet dog).
it has the same meaning as wretched.
But also, it’s currently raining, so he is indeed drenched.

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